PRHK Viewpoints: Context matters when navigating periods of major change

As communications practitioners, our role is to clear the clouds of confusion. While we adapt to change, our aims remain the same: Pinpoint risks, mitigate challenges, identify opportunities, and help clients influence opinion and navigate the global geopolitical landscape. Against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the fraught geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific region, brands and corporations face an intricate balancing act when weighing the expectations of stakeholders in Hong Kong, across the region and around the world. To best understand and manage the growing complexity across APAC generally and in relation to China, the Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong in particular, brands must:

  1. Understand the geopolitical context and develop China expertise: As China moves closer to becoming the world’s largest economy, global business leaders and corporations require an increasingly sophisticated, nuanced, and multi-faceted understanding of the country and its people. With Hong Kong part of and impacted by such changes, our role in communicating a savvy understanding of these dynamics must go well beyond keeping up with day-to-day developments. We must be able to effectively calibrate business strategies and align communications and public affairs to the needs of a multitude of stakeholders in the years and decades to come.

  2. Ensure plans are in place to mitigate riskCompanies need to be aware of the commonly encountered pitfalls suffered by global brands and have robust, up-to-date plans in place to mitigate risk.

  3. Test and monitor (and repeat): Building team competency and testing systems is key to effective crisis management. Brands need to routinely test real-life potential issues and crises across multiple scenarios relevant to their organization as the environment around them evolves. Conducting regular, real-time crisis simulations and refresher sessions has become more essential to ensuring corporate leaders and frontline staff are equipped with the necessary issues identification and crisis communication skills. And while it may sound obvious, a sophisticated and reliable monitoring system that tracks news and social chatter is mandatory. As online communication platforms evolve, so must an organization’s monitoring tools – gone are the days where a simple Google alert would do the trick.

In today’s world, quick thinking and forward thinking play a critical role in not just the future success of a brand, but its long-term survival. More than anything, it is our responsibility as communicators to ensure these brands are both agile enough to adapt to crises as they unfold and have the foresight needed to anticipate future trends.

This piece was written by Adam Wyldeck, managing director and head of corporate and public affairs, BCW Hong Kong, and member of PRHK. PRHK Viewpoints is an article series contributed by members of PRHK, Hong Kong’s PR & communications association.